What makes silk so special?
At Kikimono, we use for production only Italian silk of highest grammage (over 75 gr/m) from the factories in the Lake Como region, which supply the biggest fashion houses. While it is rather common to associate silk with luxury and therefore high prices, it's worth shedding some light into how silk is made and what makes it so special.
Where does silk come from?
The silk fiber is made from the cocoons of silkworms. The worms are cultivated on mulberry trees. Once they form cocoons, these are dissolved in boiling water in order for individual long fibres to be extracted and fed into the spinning reel.
Benefits of silk
The very notion of silk produces a luxurious and comfortable image in most people’s minds. This is because of the fiber’s wonderful properties.
- Because of the natural protein structure silk is a naturally hypoallergenic fabric.
- Silk has temperature regulating properties and therefore perfect for warm temperatures.
- It has a soft and pleasant touch and therefore ideal for clothes worn directly on skin.
- It is a breathable fabric that is robust and resists odors.
- Silk easily absorbs dyes and can be dyed with low-impact and natural dyes.
- It is biodegradable and can be recycled.
Is silk vegan?
Not everyone knows that silk is an animal byproduct. If you value products which do not harm animals, you may need to look for special types of silk. Traditional silk production process involves boiling the silkworm chrysalis before the moths have emerged. Whether silkworms and other insects can feel pain and suffering is something experts disagree on. Nevertheless, if you want to be on the safe side, look for products made of pease silk or Ahimsa silk. Peace/Ahimsa silk is a type of silk which allows the moth to emerge before harvesting the cocoon.
Italian silk – back on track
The history of silk production in Italy dates back to the 14th century, when Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, decided to plant mulberry trees around Lake Como, much to the delight of the silkworms. From this moment the Lake Como’s silk industry started to arise. However, in the second half of the 20th century the Italian silk production could not compete with the prices of silk produced in China. The world-renowned silk makers were forced to abandon the last spinning silk mills on Italian soil. Until recently, Italian silk products may well have been handcrafted in the country, but chances were that the silk yarn was spun in China and perhaps woven to fabric there too. Only recently, the air pollution in China caused a decline in mulberry trees and pushed up the silk prices. This in turn allowed the Italians to regain a foothold in the market. The country has invested a lot in creating nearly 1000 silk worm factories. Thanks to this investment, nowadays silk factories around Lake Como supply again the world with high-quality silk, made 100% in Italy.
Taking care of silk
Many people are wary of owning silk due to the cleaning instructions listed on most silk garments. While many of them do recommend dry cleaning, you can usually hand wash and hang dry silk garments. The rich colors of silk can often bleed, so be sure to test before washing anything: Dip a cotton swab in mild laundry detergent and water, then dab it on a hidden seam to see if any dye comes off on the swab. Bright prints or colors that bleed should be dry-cleaned. Silk garments should be hung to prevent wrinkles.